Billionaire Who Built China’s Biggest Drugmaker Steps Down

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(Bloomberg) --

The richest man in China’s pharmaceutical sector is retiring from the company he built after 30 years at the helm.

Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine Co. said in a statement to the Shanghai stock exchange on Thursday that its chairman Sun Piaoyang is stepping down and will be replaced by the company’s president, Zhou Yunshu.

Sun, who is one of the most respected figures in China’s health-care sector, is worth $13.3 billion, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index. He’s half of a pharma power couple: among China’s health-care billionaires, he’s second only to his wife, Zhong Huijuan, the chairman of Jiangsu Hansoh Pharmaceutical Co., who is worth $14.2 billion.

Their combined wealth rivals the Sacklers, who made a fortune selling opioids, and the Bertarellis of Switzerland.

Sun’s departure comes as Hengrui struggles to transform itself from a cheap manufacturer of generic medications to a pharmaceutical giant capable of inventing novel therapies on the level of Pfizer Inc. or Roche Holding AG. As China slashes the prices of older drugs to free up health care funds, its home-grown drugmakers must accelerate their development of new medicines to keep revenue growing.

Hengrui’s statement said that Sun, 61, will remain a director and chair the company’s strategy committee.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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